With parents who were both Marriage and Family Therapists, Penney began learning the ways of a therapist early on in life. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1988, and in 1998 she earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Adams State University. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Penney began her psychotherapy career more than 20 years ago as a wilderness therapy field guide in Utah. In this work, she witnessed the beauty of the way mother nature brings issues to light. Prior to joining Open Sky in 2014, Penney worked extensively in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, exploring the power of working with a horse as a co-therapist. Equine therapy and wilderness therapy showed her the way that experiential therapies can access the right brain and thus lead to lasting changes.
Early in her career, Penney also worked with adults who had severe and persistent mental illnesses. In this work, she assisted individuals in regaining their independence and managing their illnesses on their own after treatment—much like what she does with young adults and their families at Open Sky. She worked in a Therapeutic Foster Care system as well, through which she gained an understanding of adoption and attachment issues that often go together.
Penney’s strengths as a Family Therapist at Open Sky lie in establishing a trusting relationship with the families and individuals that she works with. This enables her to help them see where some of their patterns interfere with their values and relationships. As a mother to teens and a young adult, she knows what it is like to get stuck in negative patterns with her own children, and move beyond these patterns into new, healthy ways of parenting.
Penney has been a long-time snowboarder and when she’s not working, she loves to spend time with her family up in the mountains. Animals are also very important to her, and are part of the family. She enjoys traveling to places off the beaten path and feels very fortunate to call the wilderness her office.